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Saturday, 27 August 2011

WOL (Wake on Lan) - eMachine ER1401

Ok, so after the massive success of getting OpenElec up and running with little to no problems I faced what initially seemed like a big problem, but as always once you have a solution, it seems trivial.

Within the XBMC Constellation application there is a button on the connection menu to send a WOL (Wake on Lan) or "Magic Packet" to turn on the device which it is controlling XBMC on. Clicking this buttons straight away did nothing except change the label in the menu within XBMC to "Package...". Not informative at all.

What is WOL? Well i'm not a packet or network protocol expert but I know what it's purpose is. A WOL or Wake On Lan packet tells the system to boot. It works when a piece of software (XBMC Constellation in my case) sends out this packet on the broadcast IP of my network indicating the MAC address of the system it would like to turn on.

So a key piece of information you need to know is your ER1401's MAC address. You can find this out by logging into your OpenElec system via SSH and issuing the command ifconfig. Note down the MAC address of eth0, it looks something like this f8:0f:41:21:82:38. You can in fact do this for any system running OpenElec, but it may not be eth0.

Note: You must have your ER1401 connected via ethernet and not WIFI. WOL does not work with WIFI.

Why do I need this to work? Well as I said in my previous post, I'm storing the ER1401 behind my TV unit which means that I cannot easily get to the on/off switch. Since the machine starts and shutdown so fast, I see no need in using the standby modes so getting this to work was important to complete the experience.


So the good news is that all the changes you need to make are in the BIOS of the ER1401. So turn on your ER1401 and hit the delete key before it shows the OpenElec logo. You will see a screen like the following:

Apologies for the quality of these photos, they were taken with my iPhone and the screen is very reflective.

Go to the Power Management Setup option and hit enter. Once in there you will see a screen like the following, the settings may be different:

So the settings you want to change are to set "Deep Power Off Mode" to Disabled. And also set "Power On by Onboard LAN" to Enabled. The "Deep Power Off Mode" when it's Enabled turns off the Ethernet card so even if "Power On by Onboard LAN" is enabled, it still won't work. So make sure you change both settings.

Once done just exit and save changes and shutdown the system safely when you get the chance.


So before I tested this with XBMC Constellation (to rule out any software specific issues) I downloaded a tool called "WakeOnLan", it can be found here. I think this is only available for Mac OS X, so if you don't have a Mac then you can test it with either one of these tools for Windows or Linux (etherwake).

Punch in your MAC address for your ER1401 system and send a WOL packet. If it's successful, then the system should start and boot into OpenElec with no issues. If the system doesn't start, then check that when the system is off that it still have a light emitting from the ethernet port, this indicates that it's listening. If this isn't happening then double check the bios settings. If it is and you still have no issues, make sure your router isn't blocking the packet.


So after configuration and testing, I punched the MAC address into XBMC Constellation on my iPad and hit the Wake On Lan button. It still showed "Package...", however the system turned on as I had hoped.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section.